There is no Arab left-wing in Israel

You call this a left?
The left is supposed to bridge the gap and the national tension by positing a civic agenda that crosses ethnic boundaries. The question is whether there is such a leftist agenda among the Arabs in Israel.

Salman Masalha

There is no
Arab left-wing
in Israel

There's no left without Arabs, states Oudeh Basharat (Haaretz, July 19 ), adding: "Had the 11 MKs of the Hadash faction and the Arab factions evaporated during the vote on the Boycott Law, the difference in favor of supporters of the law would have increased from nine to 20 votes."

It's true, there's no left without Arabs; but this slogan is only a half truth. The left is supposed to bridge the gap and the national tension by positing a civic agenda that crosses ethnic boundaries. The question is whether there is such a leftist agenda among the Arabs in Israel. Because in order for there to be a genuine left in Israel, there also has to be some kind of Arab left. And it seems that such a left does not exist.

Basharat did well to try to distinguish between his party, Hadash, and the other Arab factions - because Hadash is, in essence, a Jewish-Arab party, centered around the Israeli Communist Party (Maki ). However, Basharat cannot deny that Hadash has long since lost its unique character on the Israeli political landscape, and its leaders, especially on its Arab side, are not preoccupied with an ideological, social and political discussion, but rather with slogans and a chauvinistic, populist competition with the other groups in the Arab sector.

Blatant evidence of this can be found in the words of Mohammed Nafa, the secretary general of Maki, which were published in Arabic on the Hadash Web site. You have to read his words in order to understand the deterioration of the party that in the past presumed to be Jewish-Arabic, with a progressive civic and social agenda. The secretary-general of the party unashamedly comes to the defense of the murderous and tyrannical Syrian regime: "We will never surrender to the Israeli prostitution that is trying to portray Israel as a victim," he writes to his readers in Arabic, adding: "We must be more involved in the struggle against the Israeli and American occupation rather than in attacking the Syrian regime. The Syrian, North Korean and Iranian dictatorships are far preferable to the American, Israeli and NATO occupiers and all their Arab collaborators, especially in the Gulf states."

So the party that is supposed to fly the flag of the left aligns itself with the benighted ayatollahs of Iran, with the North Korean dictatorship - one of the darkest regimes on earth - and with the murderous tribal regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad that for months has been massacring Syrian citizens and cutting the throats of those who desire and are pursuing freedom.

Can the "pearls of wisdom" of the secretary-general of the Israeli Communist Party be a part of any leftist agenda? I doubt it. It seems that aside from the blind hatred for the United States and Israel that in the past decades has become a kind of populist Arab religion, he has nothing to offer, certainly not an agenda that a genuine left is supposed to present to Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Basharat comes to the correct conclusion in his article: "Only an alliance between the Arabs and the sane forces among the Jews can stop the slide into fascism. The rank and file Arab citizen must be given the sense that he has a good reason to go out and vote - that he has allies."

It's true, an alliance of the sane, Arabs and Jews, could serve as a dam to block the fascism that is suddenly sweeping the country. But it would seem that the words of the secretary-general of Maki, which we have cited here, not only fail to attest to sanity, but leave no reason for a rank and file Arab or Jewish citizen to vote for a party whose spiritual leader is a person who espouses such views.
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Published: Op-Ed, Haaretz, 26 July 2011

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